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NJ high school student kicked out of virtual class over Trump 2020 banner

Anthony Ribeiro NJ Toms River student
Piictured, Anthony Ribeiro NJ Toms River student.
Anthony Ribeiro NJ Toms River student
Piictured, Anthony Ribeiro NJ Toms River student.

Anthony Ribeiro NJ Toms River High School student kicked out of virtual class for refusing to remove Trump 2020 banner when asked by teacher. 

Do politics and education mix? A New Jersey high school honors student has told of being ‘clicked’ out of his virtual high school chemistry class for refusing to take down a Donald Trump 2020 banner.

Anthony Ribeiro, a 17-year-old junior at Toms River High School Northtold the Asbury Park Press that chemistry teacher Andrew Gilman gave him the ultimatum during a remote session recently after spotting the ‘Trump 2020, Keep America Great’ sign over his shoulder.

‘I was the only person in class,’ Ribeiro told the media outlet. ‘He looked up but didn’t say anything. Then when he was taking attendance, he came to my name and there were at least 16 to 20 people on and he said, ‘Anthony, take the sign down right now, there is no room for politics in my classroom.’’

Ribeiro ignored Gilman’s demand at first, then shook his head, indicating he wasn’t going to comply, he recalled.

‘And then he goes, ‘If you’re not going to get up and take it down, I’m going to have to ask you to leave the class for today,’’ Ribeiro recalled. ‘I waved goodbye, and I was gone.’

The incident left Ribeiro’s mother perturbed.

‘I was actually shocked,’ Tara Jost told NBC New York. ‘I couldn’t believe that a teacher would ask my son to take down something that was in my home.’

Jost said she called the school, prompting a vice principal to call her back to say that the teacher had been mistaken.

‘He was in agreement with me and said they were 100% wrong,’ Jost told the Asbury Park Press. ‘He said to leave it up.’

Ribeiro said Gilman made his political beliefs abundantly clear earlier in the semester, telling students that Democrats were the ‘only choice’ when discussing global warming.

Ribeiro kept the banner up during Gilman’s class on Friday and the teacher said nothing about it. 

But that wasn’t the case that same day during Ribeiro’s English class, when teacher Leslie Maryon-Larose asked him to remove the banner while calling it a potential disruption. The teen agreed, saying he felt his grade might suffer if he did not.

The right to express ones ‘political’ opinion in a classroom? 

‘I didn’t have the greatest grade in my eyes, and I thought it would make her grade me harder,’ he told the Asbury Park Press. ‘I respected that she was talking to me as a person and asked politely.’

District officials have since released a statement saying the matter was being handled internally.

‘The student was not in violation of any general code of conduct or any policy specifically related to virtual learning,’ the statement read. ‘We have worked with and are continuing to work with all involved parties to resolve the issue and move forward.’

But that’s not good enough for Ribeiro’s mother, who wants an apology from Gilman for kicking the honor roll student out of his chemistry class. Ribeiro got the banner as a birthday present from his aunt earlier last week before hanging it in his room the mother told JerseyShoreOnline.com.

The teen, meanwhile, said he became a ‘big Trump guy’ after getting into politics this year during the coronavirus pandemic, adding that a mea culpa isn’t important to him.

‘I hope it never happens again,’ Ribeiro told the Asbury Park Press. ‘No matter if it’s Trump or Biden, people have a right to express their opinion.’ 

But should they have that right in a place of neutral education without un necessarily forcing students and educators to be overtly aware (and vice to versa) of one’s ‘free point of view?’